Is This Kid For Real? The Emergence of Josh Freeman

Now that I have had a good night's sleep, and have hopefully tempered my homerism a bit, I decided to take a quick look at how the Buccaneers' young quarterback is faring compared to his competition around the NFL. Now keep in mind that these numbers are a bit inflated because of the poor talent we have faced, but nevertheless they are still quite impressive. Although I admittedly disliked the pick in the draft two years ago (I actually threw a half full beer across the room), I have to admit that all the offseason work Freeman put in this year has made a huge difference thus far and translated itself into much more careful play on the field.

He seems like a completely different quarterback than the one we saw throw 18 interceptions in just nine games a year ago. We saw him err on the side of caution numerous times yesterday, and throw the ball away rather than risk a costly turnover. The 3rd down in the Red Zone in the 3rd quarter when we were up 14-7 particulary stands out in my mind. Freeman threw the ball away because he knew that was a gimme field goal and we needed the cushion. I don't think he makes that play last year.

I will hit all the basic stats, because I know and love them. DVOA is great and all, but as a few pointed out last week, they don't tell us much more than the basic stats do until after week 6. Read after the jump to see how Freeman compares to his peers thus far in the 2010 season.

I'll start with everyone's favorite statistic, quarterback rating. Please save the complaints about the merit of quarterback rating for another day. I have decided to include it in this piece and that's that. Here is the formula for QB rating for all you math whizzes out there in case you want to double check the numbers I pulled from Yahoo sports.

a = (((Comp/Att) * 100) -30) / 20
b = ((TDs/Att) * 100) / 5
c = (9.5 - ((Int/Att) * 100)) / 4
d = ((Yards/Att) - 3) / 4

a, b, c and d can not be greater than 2.375 or less than zero.

QB Rating = (a + b + c + d) / .06

NFL Leaders in QB rating through Week 2 (Note: Drew Brees week two numbers are not included in this)

1. Jay Cutler:                      121.2

2. Peyton Manning:           121.0

3. Phillip Rivers:                107.0

4. Michael Vick:                  105.5

5. Kyle Orton:                      103.9

6. Matt Schaub:                  102.6

7. Drew Brees:                   101.3

8. Mark Sanchez:                96.4

9. Tom Brady:                      96.3

10. Josh Freeman:             95.0

11. Aaron Rodgers:            94.0

 

Completion Percentage:   55.8%               NFL rank: 24

Passing Yards:                    360                   NFL rank: 20

Passing Touchdowns:       4                        NFL rank: Tied for sixth (with Matt Schaub, Aaron Rodgers and David Garrard.

Interceptions:                       1                        NFL rank: Tied for seventh (minimum 20 attempts) with eight others

Sacks:                                    3                        NFL rank: Tied for tenth fewest with eight others

 

The sack and interception ranking really impress me. Freeman has shown an uncanny ability to avoid sacks thus far this season. His size and athleticism make him very difficult to bring down. I can remember several times yesterday where a smaller or less mobile quarterback would have been sacked, but Freeman kept the play alive. One interception through two games is wonderful. Although I don't think it's a standard he can uphold, it really shows that the front office wasn't just blowing smoke when they spoke of the dedication Freeman had in the film room this offseason.

The completion percentage is really the only stat that I find slightly disturbing, but just as with the good stuff, we have to realize that it is a very small sample size as well. Once Freeman's thumb fully heals he could very well get that completion percentage hovering around 60%, which is the goal he set he had set for himself. (I swear I remember reading this somewhere, but I'm too lazy to look it up.)

Going into this season I expected Freeman to trend towards the bottom of NFL quarterbacks statistically, and for all we know he may very well still do so. However, my personal hopes and expectations have grown quite a bit after the first two starts. Now I hope to see Freeman finish somewhere around league average in most stats, and that is very impressive for a second year quarterback. My preseason prediction of 25 interceptions is looking less and less likely each week, and that is some crow I will happily swallow sans salt and pepper. So what do you think Bucs Nation? Have your expectations for young Mr. Freeman grown after his first two starts, or did you know all along he was going to put it together.

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